Anthropology department provides field school opportunities for students

Dr. Julie Hoggarth explains her findings at an archaeological site. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julie Hoggarth.

By Braden Murray | Reporter

Every summer, Baylor’s anthropology department takes students to field schools in foreign countries like Belize, Chile, Thailand and Italy for a hands-on learning experience.

Dr. Julie Hoggarth, associate professor in the anthropology department and co-director of the Belize Valley Archaeology Reconnaissance since 2013, said historically, only a few students have gone to Belize because they cannot earn credits there.

“It’s a little more difficult for Baylor students to join,” Hoggarth said. “If they join, they would have to get credit through Northern Arizona University or not get credit at all.”

During the summer of 2022, Dallas junior Liz Blancher said she was the only student who attended the Belize Valley Archaeology Reconnaissance. She also said she had past experience attending a field school, as she spent the summer of 2021 in Kerrville.

“It was a very great experience just to kind of get to know people that are interested in archaeology and to get more of that outside academic experience,” Blancher said.

According to its website, the Belize Valley Archaeology Reconnaissance is primarily focused on excavating and investigating ancient Mayan sites in the area. After a four-week session, its goal is to uncover an artifact deposit in the ancient Baking Pot plaza or even finish digging for an entire structure.

Hoggarth said students can go for either two or four weeks, but the four-week sessions are highly encouraged to get a full experience.

“I call our two-week field school ‘a taste of archaeology,’ because the first week is orientation,” Hoggarth said. “And the second week, you’re just starting to learn things, but then you leave. So if you’re there for two weeks, you don’t get the full view of it.”

The San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project in Italy is another field school experience available to students. According to its website, the San Giuliano project looks to provide insight into economic transactions by citizens in their middle ages.

Dr. Colleen Zori, senior lecturer in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and co-director of the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project, said her team is also researching how castle-building processes transformed the Italian landscapes in the 10th and 11th centuries.

“It is a different experience to go to another country and work there and live in a small town and see the way that society works,” Zori said. “That, I think, is very different from just going abroad and sitting in a classroom somewhere.”

Zori also said after work is done for the week, students are allowed to travel over the weekends, going to places like Rome and Umbria.

Since students can’t bring back any of the artifacts themselves, Zori said all the documentation and research has to be done in San Giuliano. Additionally, at the end of the trip, everyone goes to stay at a resort next to a volcanic lake.

“The students get a chance to really relax and just sit by the pool or swim in the lake — do their work but also kind of get a chance recuperate a little from the intensive pace of work,” Zori said.

Braden Murray is a junior from Cypress, with a major in History and a minor in news-editorial. This is his third year on the LTVN staff, and his first as Sports Director. He is excited to take on this new role and all the responsibilities that come with it. In his free-time he likes to read and go on hikes in Cameron Park.